Although to many commuting office workers working from home may seem like a dream come true, those who have actually taken the leap will likely tell you it’s also fraught with potential pitfalls. Sure, the idea of rolling out of bed (or staying in it) and staying in your pajamas to start work every day undoubtedly has an appeal, as does the thought of being able to complete housework or catch up on your favorite shows in between completing tasks, all while avoiding the office politics. However, all of these factors can also have an adverse impact on your productivity and actually leave you feeling more overworked than you ever were in the confines of an office.
The rise of the internet, together with remote desktop solutions and high speed connections in particular, has given rise to the number of employees who regularly work from home growing by over 103% since 2015, so it’s as important as it’s ever been for employees to find ways of being able to stay focused and productive while working from home. Today, we’re sharing a few essential tips – and associated apps – to make working from home easier, more comfortable and more productive.
Time Organization & Eliminating Distractions
As we touched upon earlier, distractions can be perilous for employees working from home. Perhaps the most important step you can take to mitigate these is to assign and delineate a designated workspace within your home. Don’t be tempted to stay on the couch or in bed all day, as it will make relaxing a lot harder once the work day is finished.
Although the smartphone has become a ubiquitous tool in our day-to-day lives, it’s also the source of numerous distractions: social media, games, news websites and so on. 888poker, in offering similar guidance to poker players looking to play in home tournaments, explains that smart devices have lowered the average attention span from 12 seconds to just eight seconds since the year 2000. Putting your phone away can be easier said than done, of course, but thankfully apps such as SelfControl and ColdTurkey can help you temporarily block out distracting websites to help you remain focused on the task at hand.
The importance of time management and planning out tasks can often be overlooked by those working from home – but both are essential to avoid you ending up working far more hours in the day than your office-based counterparts. To-do list Todoist, note-taking app Evernote and web-based time tracking option Harvest are both simple to use, clutter-free productivity apps that will help you keep your schedule on track, while tools such as Forest and Pomodoro Timer that make use of the Pomodoro Technique can also help you maintain focus on a single task at a time.
Collaboration & Teleconferencing
While the freedom and independence afforded to you working from home can be a blessing, it may also leave you feeling a little disconnected from the rest of your workplace at times. Just because you don’t commute to the office on a daily basis doesn’t mean that teamwork and collaborative tasks are a thing of the past. Likewise, remaining in regular contact with your colleagues on both a social and working level is also key to ensuring that your experience working from home isn’t a lonely one.
With regards to work collaboration, all-encompassing project management apps such as Wedoist and Basecamp can be particularly beneficial, as they allow users to assign tasks, set deadlines, upload files and collaborate on documents in real time. If you’re looking for a little more flexibility, apps including Slack and Facebook Workplace can be used to unify your communication with colleagues, while Trello offers an extremely flexible collaboration board that can be used for a variety of functions: from a virtual office post-it board to a full-on project management tool.
At times, however, nothing can beat face-to-face communication, which is why videoconferencing apps are so essential for those working from home. Whether it’s for an important meeting with a client to a work-related progress review, conferencing tools most likely prove hugely important in your day-to-day work life. Skype and Google Hangouts are the most popular (mostly free) options – although Zoom and GoToMeeting are both useful subscription-based apps.
Of course, with the best apps in the world, your own self-discipline is, without a doubt, the most important aspect to consider for those working from home. In other words, if you’re already easily prone to distractions and feelings of loneliness, the aforementioned programs will only go some way to help ease these. For those who simply need a bit of a nudge in the right direction, however, they may provide the productivity boost you’ve needed.